sterlingbmwI love to play games.

All different kinds – from sports to board games to video games and cards.

However, I don’t enjoy playing games when it comes to my finances.

In the past, I have chosen to lease cars. I felt that with California driving (i.e. a lot of wear and tear) and the instant depreciation of automobiles once driven off the lot, it was the best option.

My current lease was set to expire in April 2009. Due to my lack of employment and the current recession (not to mention a couple of “minor” accidents and the fact that I was over my mileage allotment) I decided that I would try to buy my car out of the lease early.

Sounds easy enough, right?

The first place I called was Sterling BMW in Newport Beach.

I was connected with a friendly associate who quoted me a price that included a certified warranty and knocked a reasonable amount off my monthly payment.

Ever the savvy shopper, I also called three other dealerships, including the one I originally leased the car from. To my dismay, each of the other salesmen initially quoted me substantially higher rates than Sterling BMW. When I told them about the Sterling BMW offer, they ALL came back to either match it or beat it.

In the end, even though one of the other dealerships ended up offering me a slightly better rate, I went with the associate from Sterling.

Why?

It’s simple.

She gave me the very best rate from the start. She wasn’t trying to “play” me or wring me for as much money as she could. So, I met with her, signed the papers and drove home in my “new/old” car.

Making it in this economy is going to require building new relationships and sustaining the old ones.

People like me aren’t spending frivolously right now, they’re spending smart.

If a business gains someone’s trust and provides them solid customer service, they can lock in a loyal customer who will continually return knowing they are getting a great product at a fair price.

Exactly the way Sterling BMW did with me.

Erin Pryor, formerly with Salon.com, posts every Friday here at OCBizblog.